Bloomberg News

Bond’s Rolex, Lennon’s Peace Sign, Liz Taylor Gowns at Auction

November 15, 2011

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- James Bond’s Rolex may sell for as much as $444,000 today in a series of sales that also include an empress’s jewels, Elizabeth Taylor dresses and a John Lennon “Bed-In for Peace” placard.

Collectors looking for an early Christmas gift can start in Geneva today, where 007’s customized Rolex Submariner is being offered by Christie’s International in its biannual Switzerland watch auction. The Rolex, which was worn by actor Roger Moore, is being sold as a film prop rather than a working timepiece. It is valued at 200,000 Swiss francs to 400,000 francs ($444,000) in a 420-lot sale that is estimated to raise at least 15 million francs.

Demand for James Bond memorabilia may help the auction which follows selective buying amid economic worries at recent European car and wine sales. In the 1972 movie “Live and Let Die” the watch is said to be fitted with a magnet strong enough to catch bullets and unzip dresses. Its bezel and dial spin like a buzzsaw, appearing to cut through chains.

“There are certain categories of object like rare diamonds and paintings that have a supernatural life of their own,” said Geoffrey Munn, managing director of the London jewelers Wartski. “These seem to be burning white hot at the moment with so much turmoil in the other markets. The rarest things are becoming more and more valuable,” said Munn, whose company, founded in 1865, made Catherine Middleton’s wedding ring.

A suite of jewels that had formerly belonged to the rulers of the Ottoman Empire is estimated to sell for about $10 million tomorrow. The parure of colored diamonds -- consisting of a necklace, brooch and pair of earrings -- is being offered from an unidentified private collection at Sotheby’s, also in Geneva.

Peace Treaty

The jewels include stones given by Empress Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great of Russia, to Ottoman Sultan Ahmed III when negotiating a peace treaty in 1711, historians said. The pieces were made in Turkey in the mid-19th century and were subsequently owned by members of the Egyptian royal family.

The Ottoman jewels haven’t been seen on the market since 1963, when they were sold by Princess Neslishah Abdul Moneim at an auction in London. Historic Turkish-cut diamonds have been less sought after than their European counterparts, said dealers.

The most highly valued lot in Sotheby’s sale is a 110.03- carat yellow diamond discovered in South Africa in 2010. Graded Fancy Vivid Yellow, the “Sun-Drop” diamond is estimated at $11 million to $15 million.

Bed Protest

A placard for Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1969 “Bed-In for Peace” will be a timely reminder of protests-gone-by when it comes up for auction at Christie’s tomorrow.

The handwritten rectangle of card, reading “BED PEACE,” was placed on a window directly behind the Beatle and his wife when they spent seven days occupying rooms in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal, from May 26. Their non-violent protest had begun a week earlier during their honeymoon in the presidential suite of the Amsterdam Hilton.

The placard, signed and dated by Lennon and Ono, was acquired by a sound engineer who attended the event. He passed it on to a colleague, whose family have been the owners ever since, said London-based Christie’s, which has valued it at 80,000 pounds to 100,000 pounds.

Christie’s Popular Culture sale also includes a recently discovered letter from Paul McCartney inviting an unnamed drummer to an audition. The 1960 missive, found at a car boot sale in Bootle, Liverpool, is valued at 7,000 pounds to 9,000 pounds.

Gold Dresses

Two gold dresses formerly owned by the late Elizabeth Taylor will be auctioned in London less than a week before the star’s possessions begin to be sold by Christie’s.

The Chanel shift dress and Balenciaga “Sari” gown are being offered at Kerry Taylor Auctions on Nov. 29. Owned by the family of Ernest Greenberg, the actress’s U.S.-based accountant when she was married to actor Richard Burton in the 1960s, they are estimated to raise at least 10,000 pounds and 30,000 pounds each.

“She had a thing about gold. I think filming ‘Cleopatra’ went to her head a bit,” said the specialist fashion auctioneer Taylor. Greenberg and his wife -- who happened to be the same dress size as the Oscar-winner -- were friends of the acting couple, said Taylor.

The star of “Cleopatra,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” died in March, at age 79. Christie’s five-catalog auction of her belongings begins online with lower- priced items on Dec. 3. The two-day public sale of Taylor’s jewels in New York on Dec. 13-14 is valued at $30 million. Her haute couture and accessories will be offered on Dec. 14-15.

(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

--Editors: Mark Beech, Farah Nayeri.

To contact the writer on the story: Scott Reyburn in London at sreyburn@hotmail.com;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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